Bills Moving Through Arizona Legislature Could Impact Disability Community

By Kathy Ritchie
Published: Wednesday, February 24, 2021 - 4:32pm
Updated: Tuesday, March 16, 2021 - 12:50pm

Several bills that would help the disability community are moving through the Arizona Legislature. And some of these bills have bipartisan support.

One of the bills Jon Meyers has his eye on is House Bill 2538, supportive decision making. Meyers is the executive director of the Arc of Arizona, a disability advocacy group.

"Supported decision making is a structure by which individuals with disabilities, particularly cognitive disabilities, can retain their rights as individuals, in particular, the right to make decisions for themselves," Meyers said. 

And they do this with the support of volunteers who help them make decisions about finance or health care. More importantly, it's much less restrictive than guardianship.

Besides supportive decision making, Meyers says there are also other bills in the Legislature aimed at preventing abuse and neglect of vulnerable adults, which includes people with disabilities and older adults.

"Those bills are actually making progress this year. And we're very encouraged by them. They are bipartisan bills. They are both on the Senate and House-side and to see them gaining traction, even though some of them have a relatively substantial price-tag attached to them it's very encouraging," Meyers said. 

Bills that are worrying Meyers are those that could make it more difficult for people with disabilities to vote. One such bill would remove Arizonans from the permanent early voting list. It was revived this week after appearing to be defeated last week. If the bill becomes law, it could make it tougher for people with disabilities and older adults to vote. 

"80% of Arizona voters are on that list," he said. "Anything that reduces the number or makes it harder for the PEVL to serve Arizona is going to affect the disability community, because so many of our folks rely upon early voting; rely upon mail-in voting, because they can't get to a polling place."

And if they do, there may be accessibility issues. Another bill that concerns Meyers would shorten the period for voting by mail from 27 days to 22 days. 

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